Using NewsHour Extra Feature Stories
Overview: NewsHour Extra features stories can help students identify and interpret key issues in current events. This activity anticipates one class period, but the follow-up essay might be assigned as homework, or in another period.
Warm Up: Use initiating questions to introduce the topic and find out how much your students know.
Main Activity: Have students read NewsHour Extra's feature story and answer the questions on the reading comprehension handout.
Discussion: Use discussion questions to encourage students to think about how the issues outlined in the story affect their lives and express and debate different opinions.
Follow-up: Students can write an 500-word editorial on the topic expressing their views and send it to NewsHour Extra [email@example.com] for possible publication.
Evaluation: Students are graded on their answers to reading comprehension questions and/or their editorial.
The Social Security Debate, 3/3/04
1. What does it mean when someone retires from the workforce?
2. How do people pay for housing, food, etc. if they are no longer working?
3. What is Social Security?
Reading Comprehension Questions: (click here for printout)
1. Why is Alan Greenspan concerned about the nation's Social Security system?
2. Who are the Baby Boomers and how might they affect the Social Security system?
What is Social Security?
4. How is the Social Security system administered?
5. What is President Bush's proposal for securing Social Security and balancing the budget?
6. Why does Sen. John Kerry oppose the president's plan?
Discussion Activity (more research might be needed):
Several options are mentioned in the story: raising the retirement age; lowering
the yearly benefit increase; allowing workers to set up their own accounts and
invest in the stock market; not paying benefits to wealthy Americans who do not
need it. Which options do you support? Think of some others.
2. Write down different ideas about changing the system and then discuss which groups might oppose or support each idea (i.e. older Americans receiving Social Security might fight smaller yearly increases, 55-year-olds might fight an increase in the retirement age, financial companies might want more people to invest in the stock market). How much power do these groups have? How do they influence lawmakers?
3. Many people in their teens and twenties believe the issue of Social Security does not affect them. After reading more about Social Security, explain why young people should be concerned about government policy on Social Security?
Write a 300-500 word essay on any of these topics providing clear examples. Send your completed editorial to NewsHour Extra [firstname.lastname@example.org]. Exceptional essays might be published on our Web site.